- Kamran Mashayekh
SALIENT FACTS PERTAINING TO WOMEN IN THE FIELD OF STEM
Updated: Feb 27, 2020
With the break-neck speed of advances in the field of technology and science, the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is increasingly occupying a more “front and center” role in industry and commerce. This brief article will outline the role of women in this high-profile arena:
Empirical data attests to the fact that women, both those who are students and employees, are under-represented in the STEM arenas. Data attests to the fact that roughly thirty percent of the global researchers are women. Less than 30% of women students opt to pursue a higher education in the field of STEM. There is a palpable and unfortunate reality that “STEM WOMEN” are on a lower pay scale than their male counterparts.
According to a study published by the United Nations, despite recent measures to create a more “inclusionary environment for women working in STEM”, women continue to be excluded from full participation. The United Nations has issued the clarion call to the global scientific community to end this nefarious practice and to that end, sponsors the event of “International Day of Women in Science” to arrive at the goal of full inclusion and to bring awareness to this imbalance.
GENDER GAP EXISTS IN THE WORLD OF SCIENCE - The under-representation of STEM women is a global reality and less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women. Women comprise roughly 50% of researchers in Central Asia. Interestingly, more than 80% of STEM researchers in Myanmar (erstwhile nation of Burma) are women, and women outnumber their male STEM researchers’ colleagues in Azerbaijan, Thailand and Georgia. The average precipitously drops to less than 15% in India and occupies a single digit in the country of Nepal. Women-driven STEM involvement and engagement hovers around 40% for researchers in Latin America, The Caribbean, The Middle East and nations of Central and Eastern Europe. The average statistic for Western Europe, North America and sub-Saharan Africa approximates 30%. In the country of Chad, a mere 5% of STEM researchers are women.
ONLY A MINOR PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN STUDENTS PURSUE STEM-RELATED SUBJECTS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Global women enrollment is patently minimal in certain STEM fields. For example, only 3% of women opt to join and study Information and communication technology fields. In the realm of mathematics and statistics, that figure inches up to 5% and up to 8% for engineering courses. Even though women are more drawn to STEM courses in some parts of the globe, (up to 35% of STEM students in higher education are in the United Kingdom) the global gender imbalance in the STEM field persists.
THE PROPOSED SOLUTION TO ADDRESS THIS GENDER IMBALANCE AND GENDER GAP
Unfortunately, long-ingrained gender stereotypes and gender bias are steering women away from the pursuit of STEM careers. Women who rise to the challenge and pursue STEM careers later face the prospect of unequal pay and limited career advancement. To date factors that are deterring women from pursuing STEM based careers include, but are not limited to financial considerations, workplace discrimination and culture, family decisions and overall cultural norms that may sway women from pursuing the noble endeavor of having a STEM career. The unequivocal and certain answer is until the underlying causes of gender discrimination and unequal pay are fully addressed and remedied, the world will be deprived of the brilliance of women who can and will make monumental contributions to the ever- advancing field of STEM.
It is with the above in mind, that the accomplishment of the young women winning all the Top 5 prizes in the National STEM competition is of noteworthy mention. Could it be a harbinger of greater things to come for women considering STEM subjects or women wishing to advance further in their STEM careers?